Meta : Critical Skills and Goals for Personal Protection

I am VERY fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with and listen to some of the brightest minds and greatest thinkers of the personal protection game. Over the last few years, I’ve listened to several of these well respected trainers and researchers present skills they believe really win gunfights based on their personal experiences and research projects. After hearing 4-5 of them, I started to pick up on the overlap. If 5 people from separate backgrounds are saying the same things, that’s a clue that those skills might be worth prioritizing in our training. The first two segments are summaries of regular people’s documented fights, whether reported to the NRA or on CCTV. The remainder of the summaries are  lessons taken from actual gunfighters and the training of successful gunfighters. I think there are very powerful lessons when we observe the overlap between the real incidents with what high-level trainers are teaching their students. Here we go.

Realities of Real Gun Fights – Statistics and Lessons

Photo Credit: Claude Werner

I’ll start with my friend and mentor, Claude Werner – The Tactical Professor. Claude annually compiles the skills that private citizens needed to succeed in their confrontations from The Armed Citizen reports. Here’s his list of needed skills from the first half of 2014:

  • Average number of shots needed 1.43 (most – 2)
  • Retrieve from Storage (handgun) 32%
  • Move safely from place to place at ready 22%
  • Draw to shoot 20%
  • Challenge from ready 15%
  • Intervene in another’s situation 15%
  • Draw to challenge 12%
  • Engage from ready (handgun) 12%
  • Hold at gunpoint until police arrive 12%
  • Retrieve from Storage (unknown) 10%
  • Shoot with non-threats downrange 10%
  • Draw to ready (seated in auto) 7%
  • Engage multiple adversaries 7%
  • Challenge with non-threats downrange 7%
  • Shoot menacing animal 7%
  • Shoot in midst of others 7%
  • Draw to ready 5%
  • Struggle 5%
  • Retrieve from Storage (shotgun) 5%
  • Draw pistol from wife’s purse 2%
  • ID with flashlight 2%
  • Shoot animal from grounded position 2%
  • Shoot with shotgun 2%
  • Retrieve from Storage (rifle) 0%
  • Reload 0%
Photo Credit : ASP

Next in the list of great analysts, is John Correia of Active Self Protection. He has made a business out of analyzing and watching CCTV gunfights and robberies. He has watched over 10,000 incidents on video and recently made a presentation on it. Short Barrel Shepherd did a summary about it here. I’ll drop some bullet points to summarize below.

  • Most gunfights aren’t entangled. Once the gun comes out people tend to separate. Pre-firearm access, empty-handed skills are critical
  • Attacks happen in transitional spaces (parking lots, cash registers, ATMs, upon entering or exiting building or vehicle, etc)
  • Lack of awareness (task-fixation in public) creates big problems
  • 1/3 of the incidents have multiple attackers, with usually only 2 getting shot at before the rest scatter.
  • Whoever lands the first shots, wins
  • In a gunfight, the pistol has to be ready for action NOW due to time pressure (no empty chamber)
  • Cops initiate contact-Criminals start fight vs. Criminals initiate contact – Citizen starts the fight. A plus for us citizens.
  • Tom Given’s ‘car length’ gunfight distance seems to be the norm, though some have been as far as 22 yds.
  • Multiple shot strings are needed to get bad guy to stop
  • Lots of one handed gun usage (for better or worse)
  • After the gun comes out, people move
  • People tend to use concealment and cover interchangeably, and people don’t seem to shoot at what they can’t see, even if their bullets could easily penetrate
  • The desire to close distance with an adversary is hard to resist
  • Malfunctions happen
  • Knife attacks are brutal and rapid, and don’t take skill to pull off.
  • Weapon Mounted Lights haven’t played a significant role in the documented shootings

Training to Dominate Your Gunfight

John Daub of KR Training and his HSOI Blog made a great post about this as well. Here it is. He did an EXCELLENT and well reasoned summary on this very topic as it pertains to ‘average trainees’. I’ll repost his summary below. Take the time to read that full post.

  • drawing from concealment
    • And perhaps moving on that draw (like a side-step then stop; not shoot-and-move)
  • getting multiple hits
  • in a small area
    • 5″ circle? 6″ circle? 8″ circle? consider human anatomy
  • from close range
    • Within a car length, so say 0-5 yards
  • quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • using both hands, or maybe one hand (or the other)

Next I’ll cover Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of HiTS out of Texas. I had the pleasure of listening to their presentation What Really Matters at the Range-Master Tactical Conference this year. I wrote about it here. I’ll recap below.

  • “Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS. The speed at which you can see, interpret, and choose where to hit a target. Asking yourself, “Is my target still there? No? Stop Shooting. Yes? Keep shooting”
  • Acceptable target- Is a target about the size of a grapefruit (The black of a B-8 bullseye target) Heart and brain are both about this size.
  • Always be thinking you’ll need a failure drill (ending with a headshot) and practice with that in mind.
  • Draw but don’t touch the trigger until you have a good sight track. This isn’t good for shooting, but it’s good for people management.
  • Don’t touch the trigger until you have satisfied these three. Target ID, Objective reason to shoot, and your firearm is aligned with that shoot target.
  • Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
  • Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
  • You WILL be able to see movement of your target peripherally while maintaining a hard focus on your sights. Use your sights.
  • All you REALLY need in a carry gun is sights I can see, a usable trigger, and reliability
  • LAPD trains to a .5 second split time, their shootings are shot WELL.
  • If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)

Lastly, I’ll cover John Hearne’s excellent lecture Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why: Understanding Human Performance When Death Is On The Line. He presented this at Paul-E-Palooza in Ohio this year (and will again at next year’s Tactical Conference at DARC) John’s research has lead him to a summary list of necessary skills for dominating wins in gunfights. I’ll give the synopsis.

  • Our goal should be to remove novelty, if we have seen it before, we will be able to act more quickly. Always seek exposure to novel stimuli, and war-game scenarios.
  • Build valid mental maps, develop emotional bookmarks to positive outcomes, Force On Force, video simulators, thinking and shooting, address physiological effects of stress
  • Develop robust motor programs. Break tasks down into steps, start slow, build speed, find failure points. Build new pathways in mind for motor programs (myelination)
  • Primary Pistol Skills – Failure drill from holster, failure drill from ready, moving off-line, minimal reloading
  • Secondary Pistol Skills – Type 1/2 clearing, one handed shooting, precision work
  • Tertiary Pistol Skills- Type 3 malf. clearing, shoot and move, one handed malf.
  • Allocate resources based on probability of need, focus on primary skills until overlearned
  • Keep skills and mental maps refreshed. It’s about recency over volume. (dry-fire at least weekly, life-fire at least quarterly)
  • Make People Think with a gun in hand.
  • Train emotional control via books, visualization, combat sports, rock climbing, talking with gun-fight survivors, etc.

In Closing

This post is plenty long, but it should be pretty clear which skills are needed often, work well, and are worthy of your precious practice time. I hope you found this summary of summaries worthwhile.

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Paul-E-Palooza 4 – 8/19-20/2017 DAY 2

Day 1 review here.

Day two I attended Greg Ellifritz’s terrorist bomb response block, Eli Miller’s EDC Medicine block, and helped Dr. House with his Living with the Snub Revolver block. Here’s a summary and the high points.

Sunday Block 1 – Greg Ellifritz

Greg’s block on Armed Citizen Response to the Terrorist Bombing was a real eye opener. He starts the block with a very detailed look at the history of the use of bombings with active shooters since 1928.The two have always gone hand in hand, apparently. The motivations of most bombers was also discussed. He then moves to a relatively detailed look at the components and methods used to make explosive devices (initiators, booster, payload). The ease of manufacture of homemade devices, commercial explosives, and what this stuff actually looks like (no recipes though). Following were some videos of terrorist bombers seconds before (and after) detonating their devices, and the blast radius and average times (Israeli study) you have before a suicide bomber chooses his target and detonates. Greg has written pretty extensively on this topic on his blog and I encourage you to seek this info out. Here’s the high points:

  • Do not touch a suspected device
  • If you can see the bomb/explosion, you’re too close.
  • 50% live/die line for most man carried devices is 50ft (is your shooting up to the task for a headshot? body shots can set off unstable home-made devices), 200-400m deadly frag zone
  • You won’t know how the bomb is triggered
  • You won’t recognize the bomb
  • Plan on a secondary device
  • Be aware of the bomber’s handlers
  • You’re (I’m) likely not good enough to see it coming, so be prepared to just get away from the primary bombing site AFTER it detonates.
  • If you want to help, the best thing might be to move the injured to an open space, away from vehicles and parking lots, where you can assist in the aide. Be wary of obvious places that are crowded with lots of hiding places for secondary devices
  • Within pistol range is within bomb range and you might die.
  • Staying at the primary detonation site opens you up for the secondary, and you might die.
  • This sort of thing will get more frequent stateside in the coming decades.

Sunday Block 2 – Eli Miller – EDC Trauma Discussion

This was an informal discussion of EDC and vehicle trauma kits. Eli fielded questions and invited the students to get their personal and vehicle trauma kits for critique. He recently returned from a stint in Iraq in a field hospital and has a lot of recent and relevant trauma experience. I’ll sort of blast out a bunch of notes that I wrote.

  • Ceasing major hemorrhage should be priority
  • Tourniquets go high and tight, most failures of application of TQs is from it being too loose before the windlass is wound.
  • ‘sterile’ and field medicine don’t really jive. The patient just had metal tear through them. Let IV antibiotics care for that, just get the bleeding  stopped.
  • TCCC tactical combat casualty care.
  • Deep packing and direct pressure
  • Gorilla tape and wrappers make great improvised chest seals. wrap 10′ around an old credit card to have a flat pack of versatile tape. White medical tape doesn’t stick to dirty, bloody, hairy stuff so don’t waste your time.
  • chest seals work. So do the wrappers of other medical items with gorilla tape.
  • For most lay first-responders , the chest decompression needle is not worth the risk.
  • Tourniquets are only worth a damn if they have a windlass. SOFTT-Wide, or the North American Rescue – CAT are the only two he’s comfortable with recommending. The RATS and SWAT are rubberbands, and not TQs.
  • He likes the Frog.Pro ankle rig for EDC carry.
  • He likes the small rescue hook for clearing clothing. NEVER use a pocket knife because stabbing your patient isn’t ideal.
  • Israeli Bandages or OLEAS bandages for vehicle kits, and the H&H mini compression bandage for ankle carry.
  • Combat Gauze, Celox or the other impregnated hemostatic gauze are great. If they expire, they’re still gauze.
  • despite what you heard, tampons still aren’t good for stopping leaks. Tampons are built to absorb blood, packing a wound is a way to get direct pressure to the vasculature AT THE BLEED site and give something to clot onto. Those are not the same thing. A bullet wound can take 2 rolls of gauze.
  • A sharpie in your kit can help you pack wounds if the holes are too small for a finger.
  • Gauze is cheap, carry a lot.
  • Always pack a wound without losing contact with the gauze. It’s easy to accidentally rip the gauze you’ve packed out of the wound if it catches on a piece of velcro or something.
  • Most hemostatics are good 2-5 years beyond their stated shelf life, though eventually they WILL expire.
  • Boo-Boo kits and trauma kits should be distinct and separate.
  • Civil War era ‘binding’ is still very much a useful technique for junction wounds (Hip and shoulder, think blackhawk down). You basically pack as much as you can, then put a big wad of gauze on top of that, then bring the knee up to the chest to increase pressure at wound site. Use ratchet straps or rope to keep that limb pinned to the torso and increase local pressure at wound site.
  • Always pack a wound, even after a TQ, to prevent further tissue damage and immobilize locally destroyed bone.
  • Buy quality medical shears. They’re worth the expense.
  • Headlamps in your trauma kit are invaluable.
  • “Life over Limb”

If you want to support Eli,  you can buy his poster (see FaceBook inlay)

Sunday Block 3-4 – Dr. Sherman House – Living with the Snub Revolver

To round out my weekend, I volunteered to help Sherman run his ‘Living with the Snub’ block. In it he gave some wisdom on keeping small revolvers running and some building block drills to run them efficiently.

  • The Dejammer and an old tooth brush are two tools to take with you when you shoot your revolvers. Keep un-burned powder from under the ejection star, and poke out expanded and stuck brass.
  • Revolvers are tolerant of neglect, Semi-Autos are tolerant of abuse. The revolver that’s in Grandma’s drawer likely still runs like the day it was put away 40 years ago.
  • Some ‘best practices’ with revolvers regarding reloads and manipulations
  • Building block drills, shot the retired LAPD course, and a class walkback drill on steel to build confidence.
  • Don’t worry about ammo as much with a snub, be concerned with if the ammo hits to the top of the front sight post.
  • WadCutters make great defensive ammo

The weekend was over too quickly. It was a whirlwind of bonding, brotherhood, and celebration. I’m truly honored to be a part of this, and inspired by my peers. Thank you to everyone who came and supported the cause. If you didn’t come, hopefully I’ll see you all next time around. There isn’t a more noble pursuit. Train Hard and Be Dangerous.

Mark

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If It Is Important, Do It Everyday

“If it is important, do it every day, if it isn’t, don’t do it at all.”

-Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Gable

This year my primary goal is to work on my discipline. The way I’ve chosen to practice discipline is to pick several tasks that I will do EVERY DAY, whether I feel like it or not. I’ve dabbled in daily habitual practices, but I never would sweat it much if I missed a day or ten. This year is different.

Technology To Keep Me On Track

To help keep me on track, I’m using a simple service called NAGBOT. It texts you a reminder every day at a chosen time and asks if you’ve done whatever your daily goal is. It uses humorous responses depending on your answers. I have mine set to remind me of my tasks at 7pm, so there’s still enough time to do everything in case I forgot.

I’m getting used to having a robot nag me into doing work.

What Am I Doing Everyday?

I’ve chosen four tasks:

  1. Keep A Journal of daily events and martial arts training notes.
  2. Do 100 pushups every day.
  3. Do Dry-Fire practice every day.
  4. Actively practice Stoicism every day.
Why Journal?

I did a lengthy post on this recently. Check it and see if you think it’s worth doing.

Click to be routed to a nice 2017 Journal to start your record keeping journey.

Why 100 pushups?

My sport is Jiu Jitsu, which I train three times a week. It involves a lot of pulling muscles and flexibility. I’m still technically recovering from a stem cell transplant, so I have limited energy and recovery power. So I chose to do a daily ‘pushing’ exercise to compliment the ‘pulling’ that Jiu Jitsu gets me. Here’s Coach Dan John talking about the fundamental human movements. So far this year I’ve done 2,500 pushups. They add up quickly. 36,500, here I come!

Stoicism and Dry-Fire go together like peas and carrots… or something…
Why Dry-fire?

Dry-fire, while boring to some, is a great way to maintain and improve aspects of your shooting for an extremely low cost (read: free). I also find it meditative. Here’s The Tactical Professor explaining how to avoid “Grabastic Gunclicking”. I subscribe to his method of concise limited duration dry-fire, then I get on with my life. It is (in theory) never more than 24 hours since I’ve seen a sight picture and pressed a trigger. There is no downside to that in my eyes from a defensive shooting perspective. It’s about how recently, not how much you last practiced.

The Dry-Fire range is hidden behind a painting. There is a brick fireplace behind this wall. Set it up, practice, and put it away.
Why Daily Stoicism?

Ever since I read A Guide To The Good Life (link to my book review here), Stoicism has been on my mind almost daily. I have lacked the discipline and guidance to have meaningful study though. One of the key aspects to practicing is daily reflection. Luckily, a book exists that helps provide a short daily quote from a Stoic’s writing and paragraph to reflect on. I don’t know enough about Stoicism to prosthelytize, but I know it resonates with me fundamentally, so I’ll study it daily. The book is The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

Completing these four tasks every day is something that has become very important to me. I know there will be days when I don’t feel like completing those tasks. It is in those moments that I force myself to that real growth happens.

Discipline equals freedom.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you’re doing to develop  your discipline.

Mark

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The Worthless Youtube Gun Review And My Proposal

I take issue with how most popular youtube firearms channels conduct their gun reviews. It’s like the hollow, superficial gun magazine reviews have bled onto the internet in long form video. I get it. Guns are guns. They’re generally boring and you have to pretend there’s something fancy and new about this specific gun you’re reviewing to fill time and have something to post every week. However, I think it could be done better. Reviews in gun magazines when I was reading them in the early 2000’s went like this:

  • “This pistol well balanced and feels good in the hand”
  • “Ate all 100 rounds I tested flawlessly”
  • “Here’s a shot grouping with XYZ defensive ammo”
  • “Innovative features” that are minor variations of features on all other guns
  • …more drivel…
  • The End

The blatantly bought and sold gun reviews in print media became the laughing stock of the internet. Fast forward to the mid-2000s and we saw independent folks started having a voice with forums, blogs, and eventually YouTube. Once Youtube took off and people realized they could monetize views, we started to see these semi-professional independent gun reviewers gain popularity. Arguably, today these folks are the most recognized people in the industry at large.

Good for Plinkin’, but completely lacking in substance

Tips for Spotting Useless Information

Here’s some things to keep in mind if you’re relatively new to guns and are watching one of those YouTube gun celebrities review a gun on their home range with all the steel targets and soda bottles.

    • “Feels good in the hand” is completely subjective and is totally dependent on the person holding the gun. It also doesn’t matter what it feels like at the gun shop, it matters how it feels while it’s being shot. Some guns that feel good, shoot poorly. For instance, a very comfortable framed gun can be like a bar of soap in recoil that has no index points when establishing grip in the holster. This results in inconsistent presentations on target. Some that “feel blocky” in the hand, actually allow a more repeatable hand index and presentation.
    • “Follow up shots are really fast!” Show me a timer. Show me a grouping on paper. If they don’t have a timer and corresponding holes in a target, you can safely disregard that comment. Here’s a clip of Ernest Langdon talking about his ‘lie detector’ (Shot Timer):

  • “The Trigger is great!” Another subjective comment. More useful information is the method of operation, trigger weight, length of pull, and a description of the feel of the trigger press throughout the shot cycle.
  • “This gun is really accurate” For me, watching someone shoot a 10″ piece of steel at 10 yards isn’t proof of accuracy. Most guns are mechanically more accurate than the shooter. I’d like to see benched 25-yard groupings, which show mechanical accuracy, as well as off-hand 25 yard groups which factor in trigger, sights, and operator ability all together.
  • “This gun is a hoot to shoot!” Maybe. All guns are. I personally am after reliability and performance. Does this pistol allow the reviewer to do something better, worse, or the same as he can do with any other pistol. What? Why? How? This is what I want to know.

Without quantifiable data, you’re just shooting bottles of soda. Look at it as entertainment, not an actual review. Subjective reviews have certain limited value, but numbers matter. Only Performance counts.

What Does The Perfect Gun Channel Look Like (to me)?

If I ran a youtube channel, one of the main features would be to start a performance board similar to how the BBC Show TOP GEAR would review cars around their home track, and rank them on a chart. Think of all the possibilities for quantifying a gun’s attributes! I would pick a few drills that I decided would best demonstrate all important attributes of a gun’s operation by removing outside variables as much as possible, put them on a timer, and rank them by the numbers. The shooter’s ability doesn’t have to be world class, it just needs to be the same shooter for all the tests (me in this case). The viewer would have a direct comparison between any guns I ran through that battery of tests. Scores, Times, Weight, Size, Caliber, reliability are all quantifiable. There would be some subjective input, but I’d keep it minimal. I realize that might be boring to the casual gun person. It’s probably a dumb idea. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to watching Hickok45 shoot steel rams and chuckle at the *GONGGGGG*.

 

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